November 12, 2011 by David Gillaspie
When kids find their heroes battling evil, they try and measure up.
Sometimes they fall short, both kids and heroes.
Whose fault is it the early televison Superman was a chunky guy with widow’s peaked slicked back hair and baggy long johns?
He wasn’t very super, but in the black and white television era, he was super enough.
Television’s early Batman had similar problems. This wasn’t the Batman we know today. TV Batman was soft and funny.
If you grew up wishing to be like Superman and Batman in their television roles, you set the bar too low. They didn’t have the Real Man glow.
The fifties and sixties had heroes, but not many super heroes. They had enough regular heroes.
If you couldn’t find a heroic WWII vet, you might find a heroic Korean War vet, or later a heoric Vietnam Vet.
Some of their experiences are so horrible you might get a case of Relayed Stress Syndrome just by listening.
War stories do that.
Today’s veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have their own stories so grim it’s hard to believe anyone could live through them.
Their’s are the lessons we learn from today, a Real Man’s Game won by real men.
If a combat vet starts rolling out his nightmares, be man enough to sit still and not ask questions. Don’t ask them to clarify something you misunderstood. Just let them wind it up, then wind it down.
Your job is to listen without judging.
You are an active listener, not a human lie-detector.
If you believe their war story, then you’ve been listening to a hero worth your admiration, not a remf telling someone else’s story. You’ll know the difference when you look them in the face and feel glad you’re on the same side.
You get the feeling they would kill you if were enemies.
The Real Man’s Game gets complicated outside the battlefield. Who’s to say what, or who, is evil enough to confront in a life-changing way if you are the agent of change?
To play it right you fight evil when it pokes up its ugly head. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose; if you live through the experience, you earn the right to share it or keep quiet.
The man who sees evil around every corner has a special name, maybe a clinical description. They take medication to help see the difference between evil and good.
The woman who walks her dog and doesn’t pick up after it craps in your yard is not Hitler. She’s a bad pet owner, not Mein Fuhrer. Resist the urge to kidnap her to your basement waterboard. Stay on the right side of Silence of the Lambs.
At the same time the teenager who cuts you off in traffic is just a kid with bad driving habits, not the Green River killer fleeing with a body in their trunk. You don’t need to force them off the road and beat them with a tire iron.
Acting out violence is reserved for special circumstances. Because it happens so seldom, the ability to judge the correct use of extreme violence is rare in civilized society. The Real Man’s Game serves as a reminder.
How can you tell if a particular situation calls for a live or die effort?
Here’s an example:
In 2002, graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary called his father to say, “Dad, Coach Sandusky is in the shower with a little kid. What do I do?”
In proud Real Man’s Game style, Mr. McQueary says, “Son, I’ve heard the rumors since he started The Second Mile in 1977. I heard the same story in 1998. Now we take care of things ourselves. This stops here. You go in there and save that kid. I’ll grab a few things and be right there. Listen Mike, if you have to put Sandusky on the ground, do it. Just make sure the kid is safe. Put that sorry excuse for a coach on the ground as hard as you can and keep him there. I’m on the way.”
With that, the McQueary’s would have been heroes to every kid victimized by predators. They would have been modern super heroes.
They would have brought comfort to those guilty of thinking they did something wrong to attract a predator.
Every single mom in America could tell their young kids, “That’s who I want you to grow up like, the McQuearys. Those are real men who know the Man’s Game. God bless the McQuearys, father, Mike, and mother Anne.”
That’s not setting the bar too high.
Instead, both Mike McQueary and his father failed the Real Man’s Game test.
One knew evil and did nothing; the other failed his son.
Real Man’s Game deserves better.